When a government agency awards a contract for the procurement of goods or services, it has to follow procurement rules and regulations. If it does not, one of the interested parties to the contract can challenge the bidding process – from the terms of solicitation to the award of the contract.
This is done through a bid protest, which can be filed directly with the procuring agency, the General Accountability Officer (GAO) or the Court of Federal Claims (COFC). The best venue to file a protest depends on several factors, such as the value of the contract and the costs involved, among others.
How much time do you have to file a bid protest?
The time you have to file a protest depends on the avenue and nature of the protest.
For instance, if there is an issue with the solicitation documents, the protest should be filed before the time limit runs on initial proposals. To protest an award of a government contract to the GAO, you should do so within ten days of knowing the basis of the protest (or when you should have reasonably known that a protest would be necessary).
Usually, the earlier you act, the better. It is advisable to file a protest as soon as possible to avoid being overtaken by events.
What next after you file the protest?
After filing a bid protest, you have to wait for some time, usually 30 days, for the agency to respond. The agency report addresses the issues in your protest and shows what happened in the procurement process.
Once the agency provides its report, you have ten days to respond to it. If you have any additional protests arising from the agency’s report, you have ten days after discovering them to file a protest.
What are your chances of success?
Whether your bid protest will be successful or not depends on the facts of your protest and the circumstances of the procurement process. It is advisable to have an informed evaluation of your protest before deciding on the way forward.